The Caroline and Erwin Swann Foundation for Caricature and Cartoon, administered by the Library of Congress, has selected Ellen Berg and Prudence Peiffer to receive Swann Foundation fellowships for 2007-2008.
Berg completed her doctorate in American history at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2004 and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Rothermere American Art Institute at the University of Oxford. She will receive fellowship support for her research project “Where Have You Gone, Miss Columbia: American Identity and Uncle Sam’s Forgotten Partner.” Berg will draw on her training in social history and skills in art history as she explores how depictions of Columbia and Uncle Sam developed, the ensuing disappearance of Columbia, and how this came to represent a major shift in American nationalism and identity. The Library’s collections of original caricature drawings and prints contain many relevant examples.
Peiffer, a doctoral candidate in art history at Harvard University, was awarded a fellowship that will support her work on her dissertation "Routine Extremism: Ad Reinhardt and Modern Art." Reinhardt (1913-1967) used the term “routine extremism” to refer to a code of living that would unite aesthetic ritual and everyday routine, as well as political responsibility and artistic detachment. Peiffer asserts that no aspect of Reinhardt’s art was more central to this concept than his numerous cartoon collages, which were published over four decades in such periodicals as P.M., The New Masses and ArtNews. Peiffer will study cartoons by Reinhardt’s contemporaries, including works by Miguel Covarrubias (1903-1957), whose influence on Reinhardt merits more research and development. The Library’s collections include exemplary holdings of Covarrubias’ original work, as well as original drawings by other cartoonists who also published their work in the same periodicals as Reinhardt during the same period.
This year the foundation’s advisory board awarded two fellowships, at $7,500 each, instead of one (usually with a stipend of $15,000), owing to an unusually large number of strong applications.
As Swann fellows, Berg and Peiffer will be required to make use of the Library’s collections and be in residence for at least two weeks during the award period. Each fellow also will deliver a public lecture on her work in progress during the award period.
New York advertising executive Erwin Swann (1906 1973) established the Swann Foundation for Caricature and Cartoon in 1967. An avid collector, Swann assembled a large group of original drawings by more than 500 artists, spanning two centuries, which his estate bequeathed to the Library of Congress in the 1970s. Swann’s original purpose was to build a collection of original drawings by significant creators of humorous and satiric art and to encourage the study of original cartoon and caricature drawings as works of art. The foundation’s support of research and academic publication is carried out in part through a program of fellowships.